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Turning the corner on liberal education policies

Posted By Jon Dougherty On 07/08/1999 @ 1:00 am In Commentary | Comments Disabled

While hypocritical liberals still remain in control over most of the
nation’s public education, there are key signs that cracks are occurring
in the once impenetrable wall surrounding the policies endemic to
government-controlled schools. This, by the way, is a good thing and
it’s a trend that is long overdue.

In California, Proposition 227 — the initiative passed by voters a
year ago designed to end the fallacious notion of “bilingual education”
– is languishing in court, challenged by liberal education protectors
who see it as a challenge to their authority. However key school
districts within the state — most notably the southern California
district of Oceanside — have largely complied with 227′s mandates and
are reporting startling successes.

For example in just under a year, former bilingual education students
who have been reassigned to new “English immersion” courses have
improved their math scores by a whopping 120 percent, while increasing
reading test scores an amazing 180 percent.

Instead of acknowledging these astounding results, however, diehard
liberals like David Ramirez, an education professor at California State
in Long Beach, have simply dismissed or denied them.

Providing further proof that liberal educators are more interested in
power over progress, Ramirez told a news agency recently, “A five point
gain is statistically significant; a 100 percent gain is unheard of.
Such an astronomical change — it’s impossible.” The facts, however,
bear out Oceanside’s claims.

Now, you would think that educators like Mr. Ramirez, who put a
peculiar “For the Children” spin on everything they advocate, would be
elated — rather than put off — by these results. Hypocritically,
however, they are not.

In another victory for parents of school-aged children, a federal
judge in New York has ruled that the Bedford Central School District can
no longer force children to participate in Earth Day “worship services,”
“North American Indian animism,” or be forced to construct “worry dolls”
and other “tangibles” that “have supernatural powers.” At Bedford,
students were required to create paper images of a Hindu god, make
toothpick and yarn “worry dolls” to defend against anxiety, and to
participate in “Earth Day” worship services — all advocated by liberal
district administrators and teachers who personally took part in
the services.

The judge in his ruling had the insight to call these celebrations
“truly bizarre,” and added that the events “took on many of the
attributes of the ceremonies of worship by organized religions” –
something liberals have consistently prevented Christians from doing
since 1962.

One source said the New York case was brought to court by Catholic
parents who were understandably offended by such practices and outraged
that a public school would even consider such “worship” a fundamental
part of learning in the first place.

And in Florida, voters recently passed an initiative allowing some
public financing of school choice “for the worst performing schools” in
the state. Signed by Gov. Jeb Bush, son of former President George H.
W. Bush, the measure was immediately taken to court by liberal education
advocates who are obviously scared of the competition such a measure
creates. Other such cases have gone in favor of limited school choice,
so Floridians continue to be confident that in the end, their school
choice measure will also withstand liberal scrutiny.

Florida and other states have argued that allowing parents to use a
portion of their tax money to pay for enrolling their kids in a school
of their choice does not constitute an official government endorsement
of religion — especially when parents aren’t choosing parochial or
religious schools. Increasingly, the courts are freeing parents from
the enslavement of the public school system and this scares liberal
education establishment types to death.

But other absurdities on the public school scene remain.

For instance, the San Francisco Unified School District board just
voted to ban — of all things — Oreo cookies, Nutter Butters, Snackwell
products, Cheez Whiz and Jell-O puddings because they are made by
companies owned by tobacco corporations. Amazingly the district chiefs
do not see the irony — and hypocrisy — in their actions.

One advocate for tobacco-free public places lauded the San Francisco
school’s decision, saying, “Teens need to show them (tobacco companies)
that they can’t be pushed around.” And yet, the school district is
pushing teens around by making this decision for them — all because
they think it’s their right to do so and their place to do so.
It makes you wonder if there is a single thinking parent in the entire
school district — just one or two who are capable of making such
decisions for their children themselves.

Absurdities like San Francisco’s decision still dominate the debate
over the nation’s public schools, while meaningful and important issues
– like California’s dramatic improvements in English immersion courses
– are repeatedly ignored. However, it’s encouraging to see Americans
become fed up with 35 years of liberal education policies that have
dumbed our kids down, made our public schools more dangerous, and led to
higher degrees of personal failure among graduates rather than success.

It is also noteworthy to mention that homeschooling continues to draw
converts, while magnet and parochial schools draw record numbers of
students as well.

Meanwhile liberal public school administrators across the country
continue to drive up the cost of public education while lowering the
results, even as those schools remain dangerous and divisive places.

Americans seem to be turning a corner regarding public education and
it’s an encouraging trend. Perhaps that’s because no matter how loud
liberals whine about the “dangers” and “pitfalls” of educational
“alternatives,” the proof that they work and work well is in their
results. That, coupled with the fact that public education policies
have failed our country miserably, is becoming more obvious.


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